Jazz Fest Turnout Strong, Despite Down Economy
By Donna Walker,
Jun 10, 2009, 05:26

Columbia, Maryland - A little rain and record low job rates didn’t dampen the spirit of fans at the 17th annual Capital Jazz Fest June 5-7, one of the largest music festivals on the East Coast.

Thousands of jazz lovers came out during the three-day event to hear live music, check out artwork, meet with friends and just take in the ambiance.

Fans seemed determined to enjoy themselves despite the first night's gloomy weather and the equally gloomy headlines about the economy. “We have to get out and enjoy life,” said attendee Ron St. Clair of Washington, D.C.

The music fest seemed to provide just the bad-news escape attendees were seeking.
Photo By:Donna Walker; Capital Jazz Fest fans enjoying the music!
“Each day I listen to the news; then I listen to Thelonius Monk, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis – and the world’s alright with me,” St. Clair said.
“Everyone’s very friendly,” added Theresa Govan, also from the District. “There’s a feeling of peacefulness in the air. The artists are extraordinary.” The Washington, D.C area festival has developed a loyal following of fans from New York to Florida as well as many other music lovers from around the country. Larry Wallace, a five-year festival veteran, drove in from South Carolina. “I’m a jazz fanatic,” chanted Wallace whose favorite acts included Swing Out Sister, Norman Brown, and Pieces of a Dream. First-time attendee Charlene Graves came in from Roanoke, Va. “It’s wonderful,” she said. “The venue is great; there are good vibes. I also like the two different stages.”

In addition to music, events included autograph signings and jazz workshops featuring some of the performing artists, including vocalists Lalah Hathaway and Regina Belle, as well as jazz legends Roy Ayers, George Duke and Al Jarreau.

A few festival vendors, such as Hampton and Annette George, who travel the country, noticed differences in the crowd size this year compared with other jazz festivals across the country. “Jazz fests in California, and across the country, are down,” said hat vendor Hampton. “But the energy is normal here.” “People are thinking, just have a good time,” added Annette.

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